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Born: 4 June 1987
Birthplace: Jeju, South Korea
College: Yongsei University
Resides: Frisco, Texas, USA
Major Wins: 0
Euro or PGA Tour Wins: 1
Other wins: 2
Grass Preference: Dislikes Poa Annua
Significant Life Events: No
GBC Wind Performance Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
GBC Pressure Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Kang is another player who demonstrated the "Nappy Factor" (he had become a father several months before) when recording his breakthrough PGA Tour win at the 2019 Byron Nelson. He has two other victories to his name from the Asian Tour – The CJ Cup 2013 and the 2013 Kolon Korean Open.
He broke onto the PGA Tour in 2016 after a couple of years on the Korn Ferry Tour and largely struggled in his first season, posting only two Top-10 finishes. In 2017, Kang got his first taste of being in the mix for a PGA title at the Shell Houston Open, where he finished 2nd to Rickie Fowler. He followed that effort with a 6th place at the Valero Texas Open and 5th place at the Quickens Loans National.
A largely poor 2018 followed, however, he did manage two more 3rd place finishes at the CIMB Classic and Quickens Loans National. Kang only recorded four Top-10’s in 2019 but this time he made them count with his win at Byron Nelson and his first Top-10 at a major where he finished 7th at The US PGA. He began 2020 well with a runners up finish at the Genesis Invitational and that would prove his best finish of the year.
A somewhat inconsistent performer over the years, Kang seems to be finally realising his potential.
Sung had a spat with Joel Dahmen in 2018 where Dahmen accused Kang of cheating.
SG: OFF THE TEE
SG: AROUND THE GREEN
Pressure Performance Analysis
Three weeks later at the Arnold Palmer Invitational he was tied for the lead after R2 however slipped back to 9th place over the weekend.
Finished 2nd at the Genesis Invitational after starting R4 in 5th place 3 shots behind the leader. That leaderboard featured Rory Mcllroy, Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar and Kang more than held his own.
He led at the Byron Nelson from R2 onwards to claim his maiden PGA Tour title by 2 shots.
Kang has threw away a 3 shot lead lead going into R4 before at the 2017 Shell Houston Open where he eventually finished 2nd, losing by 3 shots. The eventual winner Russell Henley played the weekend in 9 shots fewer than Kang who also lead at halfway.
As shown below, Kang reached a playoff in the Nationwide Tour which he came from two shots back in R4 to tie.
He won the CJ Invitational in 2013 by 5 shots after leading by 2 going into R4.
He was 2 shots back when he won the 2013 Kolon Korean Open by 1 shot. It should be noted that win was somewhat odd given that he trailed leader Kim Hyung-tae by two shots coming down the stretch only for the rules official to decide Kim had illegally grounded his club and issued a two-stroke penalty. It dropped Kim into second and Kang won the title.
In general, the stats suggest Kang is now quite comfortable in contention with that win under his belt and can generally be backed with confidence going forward. His Golf Betting Club Pressure Performance Rating is set at 3 stars.
In 2013, Kang recorded his professional win in Asia and went on to win the following week. In addition to that the week after he won at The Byron Nelson Classic in 2019, he finished 7th. Kang clearly isn’t as affected as most when contending the previous week so don’t be afraid to back him after a strong finish the week before.
Interestingly, three of Kang’s last four Top-5 finishes have come after a missed cut. He is the type of player who can pop up and post a really strong finish when not in form so don’t be afraid to back him at a big price if you spot him making a move in running.
Sung was sent multiple times to Texas as a teenager to practice so it is no surprise he has an excellent record there, having recorded his win and two other top 6 places in the past four seasons in the state.
Major and WGC Analysis
Sung Kang has interesting major record, making the cut in his first 5 efforts without contending. He then made his first Top-10 at a major at the 2019 USPGA Championship where he finished 7th. He led the field in scrambling that weekend which might show that if Kang can have a good week around the greens, he already has the long game to contend at majors going forward.
He finished 29th at the Masters in 2020 when out of form so could be considered for a top 20/40 bet in 2021.
Kang finished in 4th last place in his first WGC appearance and 2nd last in his second WGC in Mexico. Avoid backing Kang in WGC’s until he proves himself in further tournaments.
Kang should be layed if a WGC ever returns to Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico as he really struggles with the greens there. Following the 2020 WGC at Chapultepec, Kang was quoted as saying, "I mean, the week before Mexico I putted great and then Mexico, it was my first time playing on that poa annua that I thought was the same, but over there I had 4-putt from 10 feet and 3-putted about 10 times before that. I mean, I lost all my confidence"
Both of Sunghoon's playoff defeats came on the nationwide tour, firstly to Garth Mulroy in 2011 and secondly to Patton Kizzire in 2015. In 2011 he handed Mulroy the win by missing a short par putt on the first extra hole. However in 2015, Kizzire birdied the second extra hole which Kang couldn’t match missing from 25 feet.
2019 Byron Nelson Classic
“What I learned from Houston Open I had like massive 7 shot lead going into Saturday so I thought I could have played more conservative like shoot a couple under par a couple days I thought I was going to win. Henley played really well. Guys are out here pretty good. It was just too late to play, get it back to my original game then. What I'm trying to do no matter what they're doing, I'm going to try to post the low score as possible as I can actually post right now. It's a little different mindset going into Saturday and Sunday.”
“I really tried to focus on my game and I think that was it. I definitely learned a lot from Houston. The other thing I actually talked to K.J. who won 8 times on the PGA TOUR, just coming into Saturday and then he gave me a lot of advice. He just told me just play your game, don't change anything. You shoot 6-under par two rounds, shooting 8-under par Saturday, Sunday it will be just fine. Play your game. Try to play -- don't try to play too aggressive. Don't watch what the others are doing, play your own game. Stick to it and just play it and be patient. It was very helpful.”